TITLE: Christmas Woe Ho Ho
ARCHIVE: Anywhere, just let me know so I can brag, hehe.
DISCLAIMER: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.
SUMMARY: Santa baby...hurry down the chimney tonight.
NOTES: December Graveshift Challenge (December 7th 2004)
Christmas rounded the corner, and the cold temperatures descended, bringing forth a chilled rain as stereotypical snow's replacement. The warm glow from houses emanated comfort and security to those who braved the cold, and created a hurried sense of yearning that spawned speed in their stride.
Christina Smith looked out the window, eyes wide with anticipation for the morn to come. Granted, the seven year old knew that Christmas was not for another week, but each morning brought her closer to her favourite day, and each night found her wishing to catch a glimpse of Santa out for a test run.
Her ears tingled; had that just been the faint noise of pitter-patter sounding on her roof-top? Hands still fastened against the frosty window, she turned her head as a smile spread slowly across her lips. Her blue eyes shone with pure joy as she pushed herself away from the window, and hurried to the fireplace, where stockings hung patiently for Christmas's wake.
The fireplace hadn't been lit that day; the blaze's absence allowing the little girl to peek in, staring up the darkened chimney's neck. Soot floated down, sprinkling her button nose as she gazed up with interest, eyes wide with hope. Two black boots came into view, and a girlish giggle escaped her lips as she hopped back, leaving room for the awaited guest. "Mommy! Mommy! Santa's here!"
He watched her, knowing that her posture stood proud but her eyes revealed the pain behind. She was standing in front of the house, arms wrapped around her frame. Her foot tapped nervously, the toe of her boot lightly grazing her field kit that had been placed on the ground.
She stood still, eyes unfocused in front of her, feeling every droplet of water that collided with her being. It was Christmas time...even after twenty years she couldn't accept that tragedy could happen during what was supposed to be a magical time of year. A sigh coincided with the cease of heaven's tears, and she glanced to her left, feeling a presence beside her.
Umbrella in hand, Gil took his place slightly behind her, offering shelter from the sky's deluge. "You okay?" His voice was soft, meant for her senses only.
She glanced at him, seeing the red and blue alternating lights dance off his boyish features, before looking back at the house; eyes dancing from the open front door where a mother was being ushered out with her daughter and then up to the chimney where a crane lifted a large portion of chimney off the house. She sighed, not bothering to offer and answer - she knew he would see through any bravery she would fake, instead she walked over to where the mother and daughter sat in the ambulance, sheltered from the rain. Catherine observed the mother wrap the blanket tighter around her little girl, and lean her head against the youngun's. Sighing she knelt down, placing herself at eye level with the girl. "Hi, I'm Catherine."
The girl looked at her mother and then back at the strawberry blonde woman in front of her. "Christina. Have you found my daddy yet?"
Catherine swallowed hard and then glanced apologetically at the child's mother. "We have...um..."
"Chrissy..." Janet Smith's lips trembled and tears trailed down her cheeks. "Daddy's..." She sighed and dropped her head to her chest.
"He's not coming back, is he?" The child's voice held tears but her eyes remained dry. She looked up at the chimney, watching the crane swing with unexpected precision, and deposit the brick enclosure in a truck. "Is that where he is?"
Catherine nodded, and placed a hand on the girl's knee. Her eyes found the mother's stare, and she offered a sad smile. "I'm so sorry..." She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around to meet the sympathetic blue eyes of her supervisor. Nodding, she turned back to the victims, attempting to provide hope for such a difficult trial. "We have a place for you to stay for a couple of weeks, until we get everything back to normal -"
"- what about Santa?" The girl asked, worry shining in her eyes.
"I forwarded the new address to him, and he'll come and visit you, I promise." Catherine's sincerity touched Janet, inciting a smile from Christina.
"I know just what to ask him too..." She smiled with childlike innocence, her eyes watching the truck drive off with the chimney'd package.
Teary eyed, Catherine stood up and faced Gil, unable to meet his eyes as she headed towards the house. Picking up her field kit, she continued to head towards the door even when a hand grabbed her arm to restrain.
She pressed on, using all of her strength to ignore the concern in his voice.
She dismissed the growing anger and gained a few more steps.
She was jerked back, and landed clumsily against his chest, where she remained: hands clenched into fists, head pressed against the damp material, heart gasping for oxygen.
"Go home, I'll call in Nick..." Gil closed his eyes, bringing his hand to rest on the nape of her neck, holding him close to her.
"No...I have to do this - for her. I have to help -"
"Then go home...take some time -"
"You're not taking me off this case!" She pushed herself away from him, attempting to dry her eyes.
"You can't give her what she wants, Cath!" Gil stepped closer to her, placing both hands on her shoulders, feeling the tension increase as seconds ticked by. "Catherine, you're too emotionally involved...I'm sorry."
Distancing herself from him, she picked up her field kit, heading straight to her car. The frigid rain drops mingled with her tears as she stepped into her Denali, shutting the door forcefully behind her. Starting the car, she threw one last look at Gil and drove off.
He watched her until the car disappeared in the foggy air, and turned towards the house. Picking up his kit, he mumbled to himself in a sing-song voice, "it's the most...wonderful time...of the year..."